The phenomenology of premenstrual syndrome in female medical students: a cross sectional study

Pan Afr Med J. 2010 Apr 23:5:4. doi: 10.4314/pamj.v5i1.56194.


Background: The premenstrual syndrome (PMS) is particularly common in the younger age groups and, therefore represents a significant public health problem in young girls. This study aims to estimate the prevalence, severity, determinants of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and its impact among the female medical students in Al-Ahsa, Saudi Arabia.

Methods: This study was performed at the College of Medicine, King Faisal University, Saudi Arabia, from June through December 2009. It included 250 medical students. They filled different questionnaires covering American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) criteria to diagnose PMS, demographic & reproductive factors, physical activity and mental condition. Regression analysis was conducted for all the predictors.

Results: PMS was diagnosed in 35.6% of cases, distributed as 45% mild, 32.6% moderate and 22.4% severe. There were significant trends for older age, rural residence, family income and family history of PMS. The dominant limited activity was concentration in class (48.3%). Limitations of activities were significantly more frequent among severe cases. The prevalence of anxiety and depression was statistically more evident in the PMS group. Regression analysis revealed that, PMS was significantly associated with older age groups, rural residence, lower age at menarche, regularity of menses and family history.

Conclusion: PMS is a common problem in young Saudi students in Al Ahsa. Severe PMS was associated with more impairment of daily activities and psychological distress symptoms. Older student age, rural residence, earlier age of menarche, regular cycles and positive family history are possible risk factors for PMS.

Keywords: Saudi Arabia; premenstrual syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Premenstrual Syndrome / psychology
  • Prevalence
  • Quality of Life
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology
  • Schools, Medical
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Students, Medical / statistics & numerical data*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult